Good Art Comes in Small Packages…

During the Marion Art Center’s ongoing “Small Works on the Wall” exhibit, if you see a little something you like, you can buy it, take it right from the gallery wall, and carry it home with you. And although these small-size works of art can literally fit into the palm of your hand, that doesn’t mean the work is lacking in full-size talent.

It’s quite the contrary.

The 24 local artists represented on the gallery walls at the MAC this month until December 20 offer the beholder’s eye a fresh perspective on practical gift giving: small-scale, affordable, and the perfect alternative to the usual gift-giving.

As soon as one enters the main door, Christy Gunnels’ strikingly life-like painting of American crows, gold finches, and heron pulls you in and up close to admire the exquisite detail of the relatively commonplace crow. It might not be a partridge in a pear tree, but Gunnels’ birds – a collection of simple subjects with a density of detail – leave a lasting impression.

Ruth LaGue’s colorful acrylic paintings are fascinating impressions of nature – its colors, patterns, and three-dimensional texture. Her four paintings that hung on the wall on the night of November 24 – Clouds Over the River, Sunset, Distance, and Northeast Kingdom – mist in a field (VT) – capture the very titles of each piece, which likely will not hang long on the MAC walls before somebody captures them up.

The artists are all relatively local, meaning they were local enough to deliver their four works personally to the MAC and return Friday night for the opening reception.

The small works show is a new concept for the MAC’s annual December holiday show, with the key component being you see it, you like it, you take it off the wall, and you take it home.

MAC Exhibition Committee member Liz Howland said this particular show is that something “fresh” that the committee was looking for this year.

“All the artwork is small. People who love art can always find a spot to hang a little something,” said Howland. “This show has abstract, realism, abstract realism – the whole gamut.”

Each artist has four pieces hanging on the wall, and as the individual works sell, the artist will replace them with other similar works until they are all sold.

“It’s a really nice way to introduce people who really love art,” said Exhibition Committee member Alice Shire, given the relatively smaller size and the relatively smaller price tag. “Some people think, ‘Oh, I can’t own a piece of original art,’” Shire continued, “and now with small work shows, you can.”

“You can see the complexity, the difference between the artists’ styles, just in their four pieces,” said Howland as she admired the collection of four oil paintings by Susan Strauss.

The small works show isn’t about impulse buying. Rather, it’s more about finding something special that is suitable for wrapping – that is, if it actually makes it under the Christmas tree.

The show continues until December 20. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday, 1:00 to 5:00 pm, and Saturday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. For more information, visit

By Jean Perry

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